Tag Archives: The Mountain Astrologer

What is astrology’s place in the contemporary world?

We live in a vast energy field of constant motion, most of which is invisible to us. The rippling patterns of order and chaos, which is the fundamental dance of creation, govern everything. I have come to see the art of astrology (helped by what I have grasped of what the quantum world has revealed to us) as one that enables us to map those patterns via the constant shifting energies of the planets in their orbits.

Cosmic Dance

Cosmic Dance (click on image to see full poster)

words by Anne Whitaker

Astrologers take a step that, in our reductionist, materialist culture, pulls down all sorts of opprobrium and scorn upon our heads: We attribute meaning to those patterns. Beginning in ancient times until the Scientific Revolution of the 17th Century (which caused a split between form, described by astronomy, and content, described by astrology), the maxim “as above, so below” governed people’s worldview. Prior to the Scientific Revolution, we lived in a cosmos charged with meaning, an “ensouled” cosmos, where form and content reflected and informed each other.

Astrology and prejudice
Some of us still live in that cosmos. Others do not. Where you have such a powerful clash of worldviews, polarisation and prejudice can arise. I think that Victor Olliver, editor of the UK’s respected Astrological Journal, was right regarding his eloquent and well argued response to my doubts and questions about popular astrology in the spring of 2015. At that time, he pointed out that the real enemy of astrology is prejudice. There is the prejudice from outside the astrological community (especially from much of the scientific community) from those who believe that our lives are the product of cosmic chance, and thereby devoid of meaning. And then there is the prejudice from those within the community — those who consider themselves to be “serious” practitioners — toward the populist, mass-market astrology that millions avidly consume across a vast range of media on a daily basis, looking for some glimmer of meaning in life.

What do we do about this? In reflecting on how I might “wrap up” Victor’s and my three-part debate, which generated a great deal of interest across the Web, the word “occult” came strongly to mind.

I pondered it for a few days. According to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, the original meaning of the word is from the Latin “occulere,” i.e. “to hide, conceal.” It also (in a more physical sense) means “to cut off from view by interposing some other body,” as in, for example, the occultation of one planet or heavenly body by another.

Is astrology an “occult” practice?
The word “occult” in recent times has taken on a more sinister connotation, referring often to magical or supernatural practices of a dubious nature. As I reflected on it, I became more interested in the original meaning of the word, which has led me to a conclusion about the status of astrology, especially in our modern world: The true depth of what astrology can reveal about human affairs, both in the collective and the personal sense, will always be inaccessible to the large majority of people. Astrology is an occult subject. As such, its influence and its great value are likely to remain masked, hidden from view, operating powerfully but behind the scenes of everyday life.

Ancient Stargazers

Ancient Stargazers

For example, in ancient times its practice was held in high esteem by Babylonian and Egyptian rulers, whose astrologer-priests scanned the stars and advised the kings (and sometimes, even, the queens!)  on the fate of their nations. There were no personal horoscopes. The general public was in no way consulted or informed regarding decisions made that affected all their lives. Astrological knowledge, deemed sacred, was deliberately kept hidden from ordinary view.

Paradoxically, in our time, mass-market popular astrology could be seen as fulfilling the function of concealing the real power of astrology quite effectively. Most of the public remain unaware of the depth that exists behind the mask of the Sun Sign columns, although I do agree with Victor that there is a very big difference between the nuggets of truth that a quality Sun Sign column can reveal and the kind of trashy stuff that some popular newspapers, magazines, and internet sites churn out.

A warning ignored
Sun Sign columns are also rather effective in raising the ire and spleen of reductionists who thereby are permanently deflected from benefiting from astrology’s true depth, which at times could have been life-saving as evinced in the powerful example of astrologer Dennis Elwell’s prescient warning in the 1980s.

In 1987, Dennis Elwell, the late well-known U.K. astrologer, wrote to the main shipping companies to warn them that a pattern very similar to that under which the Titanic had sunk was coming in the heavens very soon. He strongly suggested that they review the seaworthiness and safety procedures of all their passenger ships. His warning was duly dismissed. Not long afterwards, the U.K.’s Herald of Free Enterprise ferryboat went down, resulting in the loss of 188 lives.

Popular astrology—a stepping-stone?
It is true, as Victor pointed out in his robust reply to my challenge, that mass-market astrology is the stepping-stone that enables people who are seekers after deeper meaning to step from relative triviality to much greater depth.

However, to understand the profound link that exists between your unique chip of energy and the larger, meaningful cosmos, you will need to seek out a good astrologer to offer you a sensitive and revealing portrait of your moment of birth via your horoscope. Those of us who are in-depth practitioners know that a quality astrology reading with the right astrologer at the right time can be truly life changing.

Only a small percentage of people who read Sun Sign columns take that step into deeper territory. Most do not. Either they are quite happy with the superficiality they find there, or they spin off into active enraged prejudice, and sometimes very public condemnation, of our great art…

As I said to Victor Olliver by way of conclusion to our most instructive debate, pondering on the word “occult” has led me to quite a peaceful place. I can now abandon any prejudice I may have toward my colleagues who are Sun Sign astrologers: they are offering a valuable service in providing a smoke screen. This helps greatly to maintain astrology in its true place as an occult activity, perhaps leavening the ignorance and crassness of our materialist, consumer age  — but from behind the scenes.

Concluding thoughts from academe

I have recently been re-reading an excellent book by astrologer, teacher, and writer Dr. Bernadette Brady, Chaos, Chaosmos and Astrology. In her book, Brady quotes fellow astrologer and academic Dr. Patrick Curry’s view that the practice of astrology is  “…an instrument of enchantment, a way in which humanity encounters mystery, awe, and wonder….,” and that in order to maintain such a position it is “…necessary for astrology to be marginalised by science…” (1)

I was very happy to encounter this viewpoint put forward by fellow astrologers whose scholarship and viewpoints I respect. Their views have eloquently endorsed my own.

What do you think of this viewpoint, readers? I’d be most interested to hear.

Footnote:
(1) Bernadette Brady, Cosmos, Chaosmos and Astrology, Sophia Centre Press, 2014, p 71.

(This post was most recently published in May 2016 as “Some thoughts on astrology’s place in the contemporary world” on The Mountain Astrologer Blog)

(Please Note:  any offensive comments will be ruthlessly binned)

Zodiac

Zodiac

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1200 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2015/2017

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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Astro-Guide for 2017

Can’t quite believe it is the first day of February! I THINK I am now coming round from a particularly dozy January – not helped at all by a long bout of winter flu or whatever the hell it was…

I greatly appreciate the efforts of those colleagues who every new year, compile most helpful lists of the major planetary events. Last year, I posted Leah Whitehorse‘s very comprehensive list. This year, my thanks to that wonderful resource The Astrology Podcast: here is their list. I have mine printed out and pinned up on my office wall. Hope you find it useful!

Zodiac

Zodiac

Main Signatures for 2017

  • Leo eclipse in August, and that axis shifting from Virgo-Pisces to Leo-Aquarius in general.
  • Venus retrograde in Aries/Pisces, echoing back to 8 years ago.
  • Jupiter-Uranus opposition off and on most of the year.
  • Final phases of Saturn in Sagittarius, followed by start of Saturn in Capricorn.
  • Saturn-Uranus trine
  • Jupiter-Neptune trine

Full List of Major Alignments for 2017

  • Mercury direct at 28 Sagittarius January 8
  • Jupiter stations retrograde at 23 Libra February 6
  • Venus stations retrograde at 13 Aries on March 4
  • Saturn stations retrograde at 27 Sagittarius on April 5
  • Mercury stations retrograde at 4 Taurus on April 9
  • Venus stations direct at 26 Pisces on April 14
  • Pluto stations retrograde at 19 Capricorn on April 20
  • Mercury stations direct at 24 Aries on May 3
  • True Node moves into Leo on May 9
  • Jupiter stations direct at 13 Libra June 8
  • Neptune stations retrograde at 14 Pisces June 16
  • Uranus retrograde at 28 Aries on August 3
  • Mercury retrograde at 11 Virgo on August 13.
  • August solar eclipse everyone talking about.
    • August 21
    • Occurs at 28 Leo
    • Shadow moves over entire continental United States
  • Saturn stations direct at 21 Sagittarius August 25
  • Pluto stations direct at 16 Capricorn on September 27
  • Mercury stations direct at 28 Leo on September 5
  • Jupiter moves into Scorpio on October 11
  • Saturn moves into Capricorn on December 20.
    • Preceded by a Mercury retro in Sag that stations direct around same time.
Questions, cosmic questions!

Questions, cosmic questions!

And ” What does it all mean?” is sure to be the next question. Well, astrology students out there, go and work it out for yourselves! If you want some help in doing so, there are many excellent astrology sites who will be reflecting from varying perspectives, on what the complex planetary picture for 2017 is likely to symbolise for us at both a collective and a personal level.

Here are a few for starters:

StarIQ

The Mountain Astrologer Magazine and The Mountain Astrologer Blog

Astrology News Service

The Horoscopic Astrology Blog

Enjoy your research! – and do leave any useful information pointers on this topic which you may wish to add, in the comments section. Thanks and all good wishes for  2017 to everyone!

Zodiac

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450 words copyright Anne Whitaker/The Astrology Podcast 2017

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

Some thoughts on prediction…

Prediction post-mortems have abounded throughout all media in the wake of the shock result of the USA election which will see Donald Trump inaugurated as 45th President in January 2017. A large majority of astrologers predicted a Hillary Clinton win. She DID win the popular vote, by a majority of 1.4 million according to the most recent reliable estimates. But Trump secured the Presidency, thanks to the Electoral College results. So – were the astrologers’ predictions of a Clinton win right, or were they wrong? 

Mulling over this conundrum, I thought it might be of interest to repost an article I wrote some years ago on the topic of prediction. Let me know what YOU think!

Mediaeval Stargazers

Mediaeval Stargazers

The question of whether it is possible to foretell the future is one which has preoccupied humans ever since we evolved into self-conscious beings and began to conceptualise past, present, and future — now thought to be around 80,000 years ago. Prediction has been around for a long time. Economists do it. Weather forecasters do it. Politicians do it. Physicists do it. Futurologists do it.

Most of the foregoing predictors direct scorn and derision at the people who have done it for longer than anyone else: astrologers.

There is several thousand years’ worth of recorded empirical evidence — much of it stored on clay tablets, as yet undeciphered, in the basements of museums across the world — demonstrating that the movements of  the planets in our solar system correlate with particular shifts in “the affairs of men” (Shakespeare’s term, not mine!).

This empirical observation continues into the present day in the consulting rooms of astrologers across the world. For example, a number of politicians and economists consult astrologers regularly. They are mostly unwilling to admit it, though we astrologers know who they are!

What we can, and cannot, do

Both astrologers and astronomers, via planetary observation, can look at and correctly plot the unfolding pattern of energies through space-time. After that, astrologers step into a different realm than that of observation of the external, material, planetary world. By looking at a section of any points or moments of the past, present, or future via a horoscope, they can examine the essence of that moment in terms of its meaning, and speculate with moderate accuracy about what some of the branches manifesting in the wider world, or in individuals’ lives, may be.

What they can’t do is to see exactly, and with consistency, how those branches are going to manifest. Historically, our track record on hindsight is much better than it is on foresight!

There have been some spectacularly accurate predictions made by astrologers in the public realm over the centuries; a famous one was made by Luc Gauricus in 1555 to the effect that King Henry II of France (then aged thirty-seven) was in danger of death in his forty-second year, by a head injury incurred in single combat in an enclosed space. And five years later Henry duly died of a lance splinter which entered his eyes and pierced his brain.

There have also been some spectacular failures, e.g., to predict that the Munich agreement of 1938 would lead to World War II.

A new model slowly emerging

We do much better at describing the essence of a pattern, but identifying the exact branches is much more hit and miss. Personally this cheers me, since it appears to suggest a creative balance between fate and free will in the universe; chaos theory in contemporary physics also has strong parallels with the astrological paradigm. Both the language of astrology and the language of quantum physics tells us that not everything  is pinned down.

Indeed, a view and a model are slowly emerging, despite considerable resistance from the diehard defenders of reductionism, which can demonstrate convincingly that the lenses of astrology and quantum physics are focusing on the same underlying, all encompassing Reality.

The perspectives offered by contemporary writers, astrologers, depth psychologists, and scientists, such as Richard Tarnas, Liz Greene, the late Charles Harvey, Stanislav Grof, Brian Swimme, Rupert Sheldrake, and others — including recent books by astrologers Armand Diaz, Kieron Le Grice and Bernadette Brady — have been of inestimable value to me. I urge any readers of this blog who are keen to expand their own perspectives to explore their work.

Consciousness holds the key

My view, based on my personal experiences and those of clients and students over 30 years, as well as extensive reading and study, is that the key dimension in determining how a particular planetary pattern will play out in a person’s life is the level of consciousness at which they are operating at the time the inevitable challenges of life come their way.

Most astrologers have had the humbling experience of looking at the horoscope of a client which looks so difficult that the impending consultation feels very stressful, but upon encountering the client, they meet someone who has faced, dealt with, and grown through hard experiences that would have flattened a less aware person. We can never predict the level of awareness of a client we have never met, although we can have a pretty good idea that, e.g., Mars conjunct Saturn conjunct Pluto square the Moon is going to be no walk in the park.

I am personally very hesitant about both the accuracy and the wisdom of predicting at all, especially for individuals, in any more than a “describing the core and speculating about the branches” kind of way. Predicting that a specific branch will manifest may well close down possibilities rather than open them up, which also takes us into the realm of self-fulfilling prophecy.

For example, when Uranus was about to cross my Pisces Descendant in 2005, beginning its seven or so years’ traverse of my 7th house, I became concerned about what this might mean for my marriage. The rather problematic implications of Uranus’ impact on the relationship realm that practising astrologers see every day in their students’ and clients’ lives, as well as their own, worried me.

However, a profound, totally unexpected spiritual experience on my husband’s part linked both our spiritual journeys into walking the same path at the same time. This has had a supportive, deepening effect on our marriage and not one I could possibly have envisaged before Uranus crossed my Descendant.

My personal prediction story

Having just made what I hope is a coherent case for specific prediction being a practice of dubious merit and only intermittent accuracy, here is my own striking experience of being on the receiving end of a specific prediction I never asked for, at a time when I was a typical astrology dismisser, i.e, I considered that astrology was rubbish without ever having taken the trouble to study it.

Bath, Somerset, England, June 1974: I was engrossed in the Sunday evening chore of doing washing in the launderette on the London Road, near where I lived. It was a liminal time in my life. After having resigned from a lecturing job, I was preparing to leave Bath. A return to the Outer Hebrides was imminent.

A strange looking couple came in, accompanied by a little girl of about five years old. The woman was tall, slender, with long dark hair, a very scruffy Afghan coat, and a distinct look of Cher (of Sonny and Cher fame). The man was smaller than her, slight, with unruly greying hair and a mischievous face.

I carried on with my laundry. The little girl was chatty; soon, she was putting money into the dryer for me, I was telling her stories, and we had become great friends. I met her parents. They were both artists and astrologers. (note:“Seamus” and “Gloria” are fictitious names.)

“Not the kind who do that stuff you see in the papers,” said Seamus scornfully, having noted the fleeting look of disdain which crossed my face at the mention of the word astrology. (I had given one of my mature students a very hard time a couple of years before for her public devotion to what seemed to me a subject unworthy of someone of her intelligence.) Seamus said, “We are the real thing.”

Twenty minutes later, I was sitting in their cramped basement kitchen, drinking tea, and being charmed by Seamus. His combination of erudition, intensity, conviction, humour, and blarney was irresistible.

An unsuspecting client . . .

“Do you know your birth time?” he asked. “Yes,” I replied. “Why are you interested in that?”
“Because I am going to draw up your horoscope”, he replied. Whether I wanted such a procedure embarked upon or not was of no consequence to him. So slain was I by his charm that I didn’t offer any resistance.

As I watched, interested in spite of myself, Gloria and Seamus assembled a hefty tome, a slim pamphlet, blank sheets of paper, a calculator, a fountain pen, and a newly sharpened pencil. The tome was an ephemeris, they informed me —  a list of the planets’ placements everyday at noon for the whole of the 20th century.

Seamus took a blank sheet, carefully drawing a circle freehand in its centre. He then proceeded with great rapidity and fluency to insert squiggles — “Planets!” — and numbers around the inner edge of the circle. He then drew lines within a smaller inner circle — “Aspects, or links between the planets at the time you were born.” He and Gloria then sat back, gazing with silent preoccupation at the image they had created.

Anne W's Horoscope - drawn by hand!

Anne W’s Horoscope

I can still recall very, very clearly what followed.

Seamus, looking at his drawing and only briefly at me, gave an astonishingly accurate description of my father’s complex, domineering, idiosyncratic and wayward character. That was bad enough, not least because it reminded me of certain aspects of myself! Worse was to follow.

“You are a person rich with creative gifts,” he said. “But you need to know and face more clearly the more difficult facets of your own nature. It’s time to do that, since you are approaching 30 and your Saturn Return.” With that, he forensically summed up those parts of myself which I knew were there, but had tried very hard to avoid facing or admitting to anyone — a very common and human failing that Saturn transits expose and challenge on a cyclic basis throughout our lives. I was feeling by this time as though I’d been hit on the side of the head with a sock full of sand.

Then, with true rhetorical skill, he delivered the punch line. “You tell me you are a total sceptic now,” he said. “But stop fooling yourself. You have a deeply spiritual nature, which needs to find meaning and connection with something greater than yourself. Until you manage that, you will be driven by the same restlessness that still drives your father, and you will not find inner peace.”

There was a long pause.

“And I can see, from where the planets will be in about seven years’ time, that the Big Picture is going to come seriously calling at your door. In your early thirties, you’re going to end up either doing what I’m doing now, or something very like it.”

I was utterly shocked. I had known those people for less than an hour, most of which had been spent walking back from the launderette to their flat and organising cups of tea. They knew nothing about me of any significance. How could they produce such specific and accurate material from marks on a piece of paper? I couldn’t even begin to get my head round the prediction. It seemed beyond absurd.

Slowly, I carried my laundry home. There was no way I could find to make sense of the experience I had just had. There was no file inside my head into which it could fit.

Seven years later

Seven years later, a friend gave me a copy of Alan Oken’s ‘Complete Astrology’. I had no idea why, but had enough respect for that friend and his opinions to begin reading. About three pages in, I had the strangest sensation of someone pulling me into the book, saying “Come here, you’re for me…” I still have this battered old copy with my signature on it — February 1981.

And my transits at the time? The Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in Libra exactly conjunct natal 2nd-house Neptune and exactly sextile natal 11th-house Mercury (my ruling planet); Uranus crossing the natal IC; Neptune beginning a long opposition to the natal 10th-house Uranus-Mars conjunction, and trine to the natal 12th-house Sun; Pluto trine natal Uranus and sextile natal Sun; North Node conjunct natal Mercury. A summons, pretty much . . .

In February 1981, that prediction, (which I had never quite forgotten), and the feeling of fascination, compulsion, and exhilaration which Alan Oken’s book triggered in me came together in a way that has profoundly shaped the whole of my subsequent life.

Concluding thoughts

It’s good for us all — especially people like me, with seven planets in fixed signs! — to get jolted out of our positions now and then by experiences that don’t fit our frames of reference. Hopefully, the jolt will have the effect of breaking down some of our old defences and letting new experience and new knowledge enter our lives.

I re-interpreted Seamus’ prediction in the light of my own subsequent astrological knowledge; it was pretty obvious by then how he had got there, as was the timing of it.

I still think about the encounter with him, his child, and partner over 40 years later. Did his prediction, at some subliminal level, point my life in a direction that it would not otherwise have gone? I will never know. But I do know, as a result of our encounter, that whatever my reservations are about the wisdom of offering such specific outcomes to people, astrologers sometimes have the power to do just that.

Whether they should do it is another issue altogether!

Astrology Consultation

Postscript:

Yesterday, I read a most interesting editorial by Edward Snow, on the excellent Astrology News Service, which had this concluding comment from astrologer Armand Diaz which I thought I’d share, since it illustrates my own belief:

“As an astrologer, I often think of the story of King Croesus, who asked the oracle at Delphi if he should attack Persia. ‘If you do,’ the priestess replied, speaking for the god Apollo, ‘a great kingdom will fall.’

“Enthused, Croesus attacked, and indeed a great kingdom fell – his own. I take that story as a reminder that there is always something mysterious and unknowable, a trickster’s play, running through the Cosmos,” Diaz said.

Amen to that…

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Endnotes

An earlier  version of this article was posted on The Mountain Astrologer blog on 28.8.2013

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Zodiac

2,500 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2016
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

 

What is astrology’s place in our contemporary world?

I’m happy to say that I am guest blogging again on the Mountain Astrologer magazine’s blog this week, with

Some thoughts on the place of astrology in our contemporary world:

“We live in a vast energy field of constant motion, most of which is invisible to us. The rippling patterns of order and chaos, which is the fundamental dance of creation, govern everything. I have come to see the art of astrology (helped by what I have grasped of what the quantum world has revealed to us) as one that enables us to map those patterns via the constant shifting energies of the planets in their orbits…”

To read the rest of this post, click HERE

Zodiac

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150 words copyright Anne Whitaker/The Mountain Astrologer magazine 2016

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

 

What are the major planetary events of 2016? Question answered here!

Just when I was thinking of putting together a list of 2016’s major astrological events I’ve found the list of those very events on Leah Whitehorse’s excellent site, Lua Astrology. Many thanks, Leah, for compiling this key for us. I will certainly be printing it off and keeping it beside me for reference for the rest of the year.

Here is the link:

And ” What does it all mean?” is sure to be the next question. Well, astrology students out there, go and work it out for yourselves! If you want some help in doing so, there are many excellent astrology sites who will be reflecting from varying perspectives, on what the complex planetary picture for 2016 is likely to symbolise for us at both a collective and a personal level.

Here are a few for starters:

StarIQ

The Mountain Astrologer Magazine and The Mountain Astrologer Blog

Astrology News Service

The Horoscopic Astrology Blog

Enjoy your research! – and do leave any useful information pointers on this topic which you may wish to add, in the comments section. Thanks and all good wishes for Aries New Moon Year 2016 to everyone!

Zodiac

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200 words copyright Anne Whitaker/Leah Whitehorse 2016

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

 

Which House system – Placidus, Equal…or what?

“…Sooner or later, it dawns on the student or budding astrologer that the method of dividing the space in a horoscope into 12 sectors or spheres of life, known as houses, poses some problems.

Firstly, since there are a number of different house systems, which should you choose?…”

I’m pleased to say that the Mountain Astrologer blog has just published my thoughts on this topic. Do drop by and have a read…

Astrological Houses

Astrological Houses

http://mountainastrologer.com/tma/tma-this-week#some-thoughts-on-the-astrological-houses-placidus-equal-or-what

Zodiac

Zodiac

100 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2015

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

Engaging and inspiring: The Mountain Astrologer’s Janet de Prosse interviews Jeff Jawer

I’m still musing over Venus retro and the Jupiter in Leo 12-year cycle…but so busy (tr Venus Retro from Virgo, now in Leo, amplified by tr Mercury and tr Jupiter, square my MC with tr Saturn on the IC!) with review and article deadlines, that I simply have not had the time to write the post mentioned recently on this blog’s Facebook Page. But it will keep…and in the meantime…

The Mountain Astrologer

The Mountain Astrologer

I like to share articles and interviews from time to time which I find particularly interesting, engaging, inspiring – which broaden my perspective, deepen my understanding of astrology – and bring to life the humour and vitality of the writer(s).

I found all of the above this week whilst browsing through The Mountain Astrologer magazine’s June/July 2015 issue, in the form of  Janet de Prosse’s 2005 interview with the late and much-loved Jeff Jawer, who died in February 2015. Tem Tarritkar has kindly given me permission to post the pdf of this wonderful interview here. Read, reflect, and enjoy!

Janette deProsse • The Riches of Symbolism: An Interview with Jeff Jawer

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200 words copyright Anne Whitaker/The Mountain Astrologer magazine 2015

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page